Alaska Airlines Statement on the Blocking of Emirates First Class Award Space

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Emirates First Class is not bookable with Alaska Airlines miles for flights past March 28, 2015. There has been a workaround, but I think all Alaska agents have gotten the memo not to use it.

I reached out to Alaska Airlines for a statement on what’s going on. This is from a spokeswoman for Alaska:

It’s not a glitch. Emirate awards show in our system if there are a minimum of three seats available per flight. The minimum threshold is due to the connection in place between Emirates and our shopping system vendor. We are actively investigating work-arounds, but there is not an immediate solution.

There’s a lot I find odd.

  • How is it “not a glitch” that award space only appears when there are 3+ seats available?
  • There is an immediate solution. “The old system.” But Alaska agents have been told not to use it.
  • I can’t completely verify that the statement is true.

I checked into whether only days with 3+ Emirates First Class seats appear to have space on alaskaair.com. It holds true for Houston to Dubai flights this month.

For instance, here’s the calendar for award space for 1 person in First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.31.35 PM

Any day that says 90k + $20 has award space in Emirates First Class. Here’s the same calendar for 3 people and all the 90k + $20 days remain.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.31.58 PM

That means that it is true that the only days in March that show 1 Emirates First Class seat from Houston to Dubai show 3+.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.30.46 PM

I can’t verify that’s true on every route on every date though I haven’t found a date with 1 First Class Emirates seat that doesn’t also have 3 seats.

But I still don’t think Alaska Airlines is correctly displaying Emirates award space even on these days. Expert Flyer and Alaska award space just don’t match up.

For instance, March 26 shows 2 First Class award seats on Expert Flyer. Alaskaair.com shows 3. Alaska is showing a seat that I’m not sure exists. (I don’t know whether you can book it because I don’t have 270k Alaska miles.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.53.19 PM

March 29 (and many later days) show 3 First Class award seats on Expert Flyer and none on alaskaair.com. Alaska is definitely not showing space that does exist.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.55.25 PM

Something stinks with how Alaska Airlines is displaying Emirates award space. I don’t know whose fault this initial screw up is. Alaska blames its “shopping system vendor.” (Let’s all thank that vendor for the extra First Class award seat from Houston to Dubai on March 26.)

But I place the blame firmly on Alaska for not allowing its “old system,” which as far as we know still works perfectly, to be used by agents to book Emirates First Class award space that Emirates has released to Alaska.

Thanks to Alaska for commenting on the issue, though it sheds no light on the situation.


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10 COMMENTS

  1. “Emirates awards show in our system if there are a minimum of three seats available per flight. The minimum threshold is due to the connection in place between Emirates and our shopping system vendor.”

    OK – so why does business class not show up either? Most of the US-DXB routes on the A380 have 5-7 seats available in “D” (per Expert Flyer) which is well above the 3 seat threshold. Seems like AS is not telling the full story here.

  2. So I just called and tried to book april 21st SFO – DXb then Dxb-PEK and she basically said nothing was available. Then I asked for the old system and she said the old system booked phantom award seats that were not there. Bummer

      • I GOT IT!!!!! After Almost 10 calls, still waiting on confirmation email but they took the miles already. Thanks Scott for the confidence

          • Basically I said “I know that there are seats available can you please check the other way to book it.” =)

            She immediately knew what I was talking about and at first she said she could only book first for sfo-dxb but dxb-pek wasnt available. So I then said im extremely flexible with dxb-pek. I can stay there a week and poof, she was able to book the flight I needed. Only 8 hour layover. EK226 & EK306

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